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Botswana lifts ban on elephant hunting

[Reading level: C1 – Advanced]

(CNN) It’s one of the world’s last sanctuaries for African elephants. But now, Botswana says, its population of the animals will be fair game for hunters.


The southern African nation, which is home to 130,000 elephants — more than anywhere else on the continentimposed the ban in 2014 to help declining numbers recover from poaching and shrinking habitats.


Late on Wednesday, Botswana’s government scrapped the ban, shrugging off criticism from some environmental groups and conservationists. It cited increasing conflict between humans and elephants, as well as the need to monetize conservation efforts.


“Conservation is in our DNA. We have never been reckless. Our responsibility towards conservation has not changed, but our responsibility to the people has not changed as well,” said Kitso Mokaila, minister of environment, wildlife and tourism in a press conference on Thursday in the capital, Gaborone. He maintained the ban had always been temporary.


Earlier this year a cabinet group in Botswana recommended elephant culling and a factory to can elephant meat. The proposals drew a major backlash.


 Members of the media gather around the carcass of a dead elephant in Chobe, on September 19, 2018. – Các nhà truyền thông tập trung xung quanh xác của một con voi đã chết ở Chobe, vào ngày 19 tháng 9 năm 2018.

“That was a trial balloon, clearly,” said Derick Joubert, a well-known conservationist and filmmaker, adding: “This was always going to be about hunting.”


Scores of people are killed or injured by elephants each year in Botswana as humans encroach on wild spaces. But several conservationists and wildlife groups said they doubt hunting will help.


“If it is all about community and wildlife conflict, there are dozens and dozens of options that can be used before one hauls out the guns,” Joubert told CNN. “Many people would be willing to put up a lot of money and ideas to help communities before we resort to the killing of animals.”


A moral choice – Một lựa chọn mang tính đạo đức

The African elephant is classified as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List. The first Great Elephant Census, a African survey conducted in 2016, revealed that in just seven years between 2007 and 2014 elephant numbers plummeted by at least 30%, or 144,000.


But hunting for big game, including elephants, is common practice in the neighboring countries of southern Africa. The governments of Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa assert that well-managed hunting can help preserve the herds by channeling profits into conservation, and protect ecosystems from the destructive power of large elephant populations.


There is an ongoing debate about the actual worth of hunting licenses compared to tourism dollars. The Botswanan government said it would grant up to 400 licenses per year for shooting elephants.


Overall, tourism generates far more jobs and revenue than hunting, according to photographic safari operators and former hunters.


Many scientists and conservationists also feel that protecting elephants is a moral imperative.






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